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RCEP is not enough: South Korea also needs to join the CPTPP

Policy Briefs 21-17

This research is part of a 2020–21 series on the Korean economy. For additional research, look under "Recommended."


The benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for South Korea are limited and need to be supplemented by more comprehensive agreements that deepen Korea’s ties to strategic allies in the Asia-Pacific region. RCEP's most important achievement is its new regional content rule that will encourage deeper integration of supply chains across the 15 markets, a key benefit for Korean industries invested in the region. But Schott notes that the pact also has significant limitations. To complement RCEP, he recommends that South Korea move forward with two other trade negotiating priorities, membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and upgrading the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the latter aimed at encouraging US reengagement in the Asia-Pacific integration pact.

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